The problem: For its size, Salt Lake City has an abundance of performing arts groups.
The solution: A midsize theater complex for dance, theater and music with a 1,000-seat auditorium, a 350-seat hall, plenty of roomy rehearsal space, offices and public areas and maybe even a smaller 100-seat multi-use hall for intimate, experimental works, lectures and recitals.That, in simple terms, is what a recent survey commissioned by the Performing Arts Coalition determined that Salt Lake City needs.
Although there are a number of theaters and stages around the city, none is feasible for a year-round performing arts complex.
Tony Larimer, chairman of the coalition's planning and design committee, noted that Theatre Projects Consultants, an international consulting firm, recommended serious consideration of a possible complex following an in-depth survey involving a cross-section of people from the arts and business communities.
Larimer said such a complex should be situated downtown in order to continue preserving and nurtering the vitality that redevelopment is bringing into the business core.
The committee has looked at a number of existing buildings. But one that, realistically, could be renovated into an adequate performing arts facility doesn't exist.
One landmark that could've been a likely contender, the art deco Centre Theatre, is now just a hole in the ground with a high-rise construction project that appears to have come to an unfortunate standstill. Another downtown landmark, the Utah Theatre, currently leased by City Rep, does have two stages but lacks the necessary fly space or rehearsal hall areas.
A couple of possible sites for a new complex would be Block 57 or part of the proposed Salt Palace convention center expansion. Either would place the complex within proximity of the Capitol Theatre, which the new facility would augment.
The coalition estimates that a multi-hall complex could be utilized year-round - potentially 200 nights a year in the smaller theater and 150 performances a year in the 1,000-seat space.
Similar complexes now exist in Portland, Ore.; Denver; Nashville, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C. - all of which have fewer performing arts groups that Salt Lake City.
Both the Utah Symphony and Pioneer Theatre Company, which are housed in large facilities, have voiced an interest in participating in a complex that would give them more intimate space for chamber concerts and experimental productions.
The Performing Arts Coalition has scheduled a town meeting Tuesday, June 26, at 5 p.m. in the Art Barn, 54 Finch Lane, where all interested parties, including arts representative and the public, are invited to voice their opinions on the proposed project.
Larimer said he anticipates that such a project would involve both public and private funding, but Lou Fleming of Theatre Projects Consultants pointed out that the recommended performing arts complex could serve the community's needs for the next 25 years.
A two-theater complex would also free up the Capitol Theatre for more touring Broadway companies.
Arts groups represented in the Performing Arts Coalition are Repertory Dance Theatre, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Salt Lake Acting Company, Ballet West, Utah Opera, the Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation, Utah Symphony, Salt Lake Chamber Music Society, Nova Chamber Music Series, the Zivio Ethnic Arts Ensemble and the Utah Arts Festival.
The survey was partially funded by Morris/Ask Mr. Foster Travel, Northwest Pipeline Corporation and Gastronomy, Inc.